When the Pathankot attack was still on, the Indian Mission in Afghanistan's Mazar-e-Sharif was attacked. There was one common feature in both these attacks which has worried intelligence bureau officials no end. Both had a reference to Afzal Guru.
The quoting of Afzal Guru, intelligence bureau officials suspect is an attempt by the Jaish-e-Mohammad to rekindle sentiments in Jammu and Kashmir and make it a focal point in their battle. This brings back memories of Maqbool Bhat a separatist leader from Kashmir who was hanged at the Tihar jail on two murder counts. [Timeline of Pathankot terror attack]
The hanging of Maqbool Bhat in the year 1984 became a focal point in the Kashmir movement five years later. Even prior to the hanging of Afzal Guru convicted for the Parliament attack, there was a raging debate in some circles that this issue too could become a rallying point in Kashmir.
Two attacks and one message to Kashmir:
The Jaish-e-Mohammad made it extremely clear that they want to stoke emotions and make Kashmir a rallying point once again. The terrorists who stole the vehicle of the Superintendent of Police (Gurdaspur) had left a note. The note read
Long live Jaish-e-Muhammad .
From Tangdhar to Sambha Kathua you will find loyalists of Afzal Guru who will readily lay down their lives for him. ['Pathankot, Mazar-e-Sharif attacks reminder of terror threat']
A similar message was found at Mazar-e-Sharif as well. Here the message read, " Afzal Guru- a martyr for whom there will be a 1,000 fidayeens. Both these messages make it amply clear that the Jaish-e-Mohammad is using the Afzal Guru slogan to churn sentiments in Kashmir.
Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of the JeM has written a lot about Afzal Guru in some magazines published by his outfit. He had repeatedly tried to say that India had been running a smear campaign against Afzal Guru so that there is no reaction in Kashmir. ['Pathankot, Mazar-e-Sharif attacks threaten regional stability']
Intelligence Bureau officials say that the message that the Jaish-e-Mohammad is trying to convene is extremely clear. They are hoping to replicate the events that occurred following the execution of Bhat.
They believe that they can still evoke sentiments in Kashmir quoting Afzal Guru. While it is a worrying trend, Indian officials however feel that the times have changed and the Jaish-e-Mohammad may not be successful this time around.